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5th December 2019

Health & Safety – Near miss reporting – what if…

Near miss? – an event not causing harm but has the potential to cause injury or ill health.

Or think of it another way, a near miss could be considered as a ‘near hit’.

Near misses occur all too frequently the workplace, these can either be disregarded and put down to good luck that an injury didn’t result, or these can be considered as a valuable opportunity, a warning of an issue which requires attention before someone does get hurt. For every near miss which goes unreported and not investigated the likelihood of an accident increases. Organisations who recognise the importance of near miss reporting will not only be significantly improving the safety of their workforce but will at the same time be advancing their health and safety culture.

The benefits of near miss reporting are:

Effectively investigated they provide employers with information which can be, proactively, used to identify and discuss how risk can be controlled before a potentially tragic accident occurs. The control element may include making improvements to safe working procedures and processes, providing further or enhanced employee training, repairing faulty or damaged work equipment and making upgrades to workplace conditions.

A system for reporting which is effectively ‘publicised’ and encouraged promotes a culture of safety in the workplace. Employee participation and engagement are essential elements of a proactive, and inclusive, safety program. Once employees begin to report near misses, and they see their management reacting quickly to them others are more likely to get involved and momentum builds. When near misses are raised though rather than managers or supervisors seeing it as their sole responsibility to devise the solution to resolve it, they should be asking who reported it ‘what do you think we should do?’, fostering employee ownership of their own and others safety.

In order for these benefits to be realised it is vitally important that everyone in the organisation is trained to recognise what a near miss is and why it’s crucially important to report them and to not leave it to chance. The system for reporting near misses must be easy to understand and simple to use (many near miss reporting systems fail because these basics are not recognised). Finally, the system for reporting near misses must be ‘non-punitive’, blame must not be attached, anonymous reporting systems are a way round this to encourage reporting, while this negates the opportunity to directly engage with the individual who raised it, getting them to assist in exploring a solution the question can still be asked, just to a wider group.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Gary Foggo.

5th December 2019